Dejan Zlaticanin/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions
Unless you’re a real fanatic of the sweet science, chances are you’ve never heard of Dejan Zlaticanin. He is a lightweight champion from Montenegro who has fought his past two bouts in the United States after fighting his first 20 in his homeland and various other countries.
Americans will get to know him much better when he defends his title against Mikey Garcia of Oxnard on Jan. 28 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. They will tangle underneath the featherweight championship between Carl Frampton of Northern Ireland and Leo Santa Cruz of Lincoln Heights (on Showtime).
One thing’s certain, Zlaticanin (22-0, 15 KOs) is not shy about saying what he plans on doing to Garcia. That was clear Tuesday at Fortune Gym in Hollywood.
“If Garcia tries to go toe-to-toe or stay in the center of the ring, I will knock him out,” said Zlaticanin, 32. “If he tries to jab and move, then I will have to find my way to his head and break him down.”
While some of us may wonder how good Zlaticanin really is, Garcia (35-0, 29 KOs) intimated he needs no convincing.
“I’m not overlooking Zlaticanin, but everybody else seems to be,” said the 29-year-old Garcia, who has won titles at featherweight and super featherweight. “People ask me about what I’d want for future fights, but I know how dangerous this guy is. Anything could happen. But I know that I have what it takes to beat him. He has power, but I also have power.”
Mikey Garcia is seen here with his brother/trainer Robert Garcia after defeating Juan Carlos Burgos in January 2014, the last time Mikey Garcia fought before a contract dispute with his promoter kept him out 2 1/2 years/Photo courtesy of HBO
Mikey Garcia of Oxnard has sat out the past 2 1/2 years because of a contract dispute with his now-former promoter Bob Arum. Garcia, now a free agent, will make his return July 30 when he takes on Elio Rojas underneath the featherweight title fight between champion Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (on Showtime).
Garcia, 28, went 34-0 with 28 knockouts and won world titles in the featherweight and super featherweight divisions before his hiatus. He was asked Tuesday what he missed most.
“The actual fight itself,” said Garcia, who, along with Santa Cruz hosted a media workout at City of Angels Boxing Club in Los Angeles. “Just being able to show my skills, what I can do in the ring and just the competition versus other elite fighters. That’s the No. 1 thing. You always want to prove yourself and prove to everybody, you know, match yourself against the top champions, and I was unable to do that.”